According to India’s Ministry of Steel, steel industry’s ‘marketing lethargy and absence of rural specific product development strategy’ are responsible for rural per capita steel consumption lagging far behind the national average.
“Whatever growth has taken place in domestic steel consumption to date had largely been in urban areas and their peripheral locations with consumption of steel in rural India relegated to backstage,” additional secretary, ministry of steel, Rasika Chaube said.
She said that even though two-third of the population stayed in rural areas and 46 percent of national income was generated from rural economy, per capita steel consumption in rural markets was 19.6 kgs, far below the national average of 74.7 kgs.
Due to various government economic booster schemes, it is expected that rural farm income will double by 2022 and will continue to grow and because of this per capita steel consumption of steel will go up to 38 kgs in rural markets by 2030-31, she added.
Since steel usage is a direct reflection of economic growth of any region, state or country, there is thus a need to target some states specifically showing low per capita consumption to ensure that rural steel consumption comes close to the national average, she said.
The importance of focussing on rural markets could be gauged from the fact that during the initial months of spread of Covid-19 when most steel producers were actually operating at 50 percent of their capacity, nearly 70 per cent of their production was being exported and the balance consumed in rural market, the ministry official said.